Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Omega-3 Fatty acids in the prevention of interferon-alpha-induced depression: results from a randomized, controlled trial.

Su KP, Lai HC, Yang HT, Su WP, Peng CY, Chang JP, Chang HC, Pariante CM (2014) Biol Psychiatry.  76(7) 559-66 

Web URL: Read more and find related research on PubMed here

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Interferon (IFN)-α therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection is frequently associated with depression. The routine prophylaxis with antidepressants might expose patients to adverse effects, hence, the need for alternative preventive interventions. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are safe and effective essential nutritional compounds used for the treatment of depression, putatively through an anti-inflammatory action. In addition, lower erythrocyte levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been associated with an increased risk of IFN-induced depression.

METHODS:

We conducted a 2-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and placebo for the prevention of IFN-α-induced depression. A total of 162 patients consented to participate and were randomized to the study. All of the patients completed the 2-week trial; 152 participants were followed throughout the 24 weeks of IFN-α treatment and were included in the analysis.

RESULTS:

Compared with placebo, the incident rates of IFN-α-induced depression were significantly lower in EPA-treated but not in DHA-treated patients (10% and 28%, respectively, versus 30% for placebo, p = .037). Both EPA and DHA significantly delayed the onset of IFN-induced depression (week of onset: 12.0 and 11.7, respectively, versus 5.3 for placebo, p = .002). EPA and DHA were both well tolerated in this population. EPA treatment increased both EPA and DHA erythrocyte levels, but DHA only increased DHA erythrocyte levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

EPA is effective in the prevention of depression in hepatitis C virus patients received IFN-α therapy. Our study confirms the notion that anti-inflammatory strategies are effective antidepressants in the context of depression associated with inflammation.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

For an accessible summary of this research, see the associated news article:
Further discussion of the research and its practical implications can also be found here: